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LOUDONVILLE -- Loudonville High School graduates were told that their next 10 years will provide the foundation on which the rest of their lifetimes is based.
Robert Hartman, a social behavioral scientist who filled the Loudonville High School tradition of having a 20-year graduate speak at commencement exercises, told the 95 graduating LHS seniors "the choices, decisions and activities you make or pursue for the next 10 years will provide the foundation for what you will do the rest of your life."
Using his own background as an example, the 1997 LHS grad said "10 years ago, 10 years after I graduated from here, I had earned my Ph.D. in psychology and was working in the field, I was married to a wife who was completely unafraid to tell me when I was doing something wrong and we already had two children. This was a culmination, for me, of 10 years of choices made after graduating from high school."
He noted he has two brothers, one older, one younger.
"We grew up in the same household, with the same parents, and went to the same school, yet, based on what we did in the 10 years after our
graduation, we are about as different as three brothers can be. I am a practicing professional psychologist, married, with four children, and
living in Columbus; older brother Brett is a robot technician in Marysville, married, but with no children; and brother Tim is right here in Loudonville, living on the same street we grew up, single and working in internet technology at PV Communications in Loudonville. We are all successful in our fields, but we are as different as brothers can be.
"All this is because of the choices we made in those 10 years after high school," Hartman said. "Today marks the symbolic step into adulthood. What you do from here will be the results of important choices you make in the upcoming years."
He offered three pieces of advice as the seniors enter adulthood.
"First, get to know yourself; second, invest in your outcomes, and be responsible for what happens; and third and finally, put yourself in an environment around people who encourage and support you."
Valedictorian Ashlynn Beachler brought emotion into the ceremonies as she asked her classmates to remember one of their own, Chloe Ernst, "who was taken from us in a car accident several years ago. It is terribly sad that she is not with us today."
Beachler called graduation "the manifestation of hours of study and hard work. We must do more of that hard work, and bear responsibility for what we do, in our coming adulthood. Good luck to you as you do that."
Salutatorian Jacob Baumberger charged his classmates "to make sure, as you pursue your career, to do something you enjoy doing. And once you've decided what you are doing, give it your all. The harder you work, the more time you put into your venture, the more success you will have."
Father Vincent Hawk of St. Peter Catholic Church, in the commencement address, told the graduates "leave their school with a list of questions like 'what will I do? Where will I live?'
"Part of life is living those questions, not just asking but finding out through work and experiences, the answers," Hawk said. "Today, we look forward to opportunities we might not fully understand. Respond to those questions with goodness."
Finally, John Miller, superintendent in the school district the past 19 years and speaking at his last graduation as he is retiring this summer, urged the graduates to grasp "accountability. Be responsible for what you do. You are responsible for making the most of your opportunities, be they basic ones, like fixing your own meals and washing your clothes, to dealing with a professor, a boss, a drill instructor and, in the future, your own children. As you learn to deal with them, try to humor them. That works."
Miller proudly reported "that as of early this morning, this class, which has been outstanding academically, had been awarded $1,535,736 in scholarships.
Principal John Lance introduced the honor graduates of the class, who, in addition to valedictorian Beachler and salutatorian Baumberger are Hannah Brightbill, Ethan Gerich, Morgan Geyer, Brianna Hart, Elizabeth Henley, Cole Kirkbride, Abbie Kline, Brennan Laser, Tristan Reiheld, Elizabeth Rhamey, Morgan Ryals, Emily Weber, Kenneth Young and Austin Zody.
Lance also mentioned that one of the members of the class achieved a first for the school, Emily Weber, who won the OHSAA Division III state track championship in the long jump Friday at Ohio Stadium, is the first LHS track athlete to win a state championship.